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Klein, G.S. (1962). Blindness and Isolation. Psychoanal. St. Child, 17:82-93.

(1962). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 17:82-93

Blindness and Isolation

George S. Klein, Ph.D.

The 1961 volume of this Annual contains a moving and sensitive report by Eveline B. Omwake and Albert J. Solnit on the treatment of a congenitally blind child. The case is unusual in a number of respects that earn it close study, not the least of which are the fresh and innovative features of a therapeutic strategy which was able to surmount extraordinary obstacles to communication. But it is the ramifications of the case to basic issues of affect and cognitive development that concern me here, for it is one of the valuable, not-to-be-passed-up dividends of a profound case history or of the rare experiment that successfully joins hitherto elusive variables in artful manipulation, that they bring theoretical issues into sharper focus. Giving the present case added interest and importance is the coincidence that the child's twin sister is normally sighted. Of immediate pertinence to my remarks, however, is the relevance of the sensory handicap to the child's symptomatology (including an extreme inhibition of touch and erotization of sensory experience), the relation between sensory deficit and stimulus deprivation that is vividly pointed up by the circumstances of the child's environment, and the implications of both handicaps for ego development generally and for affect and cognitive development in particular.

In order to make my points explicit, a certain distinction is necessary. Omwake and Solnit at times refer to the case as showing the effects of blindness on ego functioning.

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